Today In History July 9


“History is a cyclic poem written by Time upon the memories of man.”- Shelley, English Poet.

History is the study of the past, specifically the people, societies, events, and problems of the past, as well as our attempts to understand them. It is a pursuit common to all human societies.

History can take the form of a tremendous story, a rolling narrative filled with ideal personalities and tales of turmoil and triumph. Each generation adds its chapters to history while reinterpreting and finding new things in those chapters already written.

Let’s discover what happened on July 9 in World History:

Today’s Highlight in History: On July 9, 1850, the 12th President of the United States, Zachary Taylor, died after serving only for 16 months. (Millard Fillmore succeeded him.)

1984: Historic York Minster engulfed by flames

A massive fire has devastated large parts of York Minster, causing an estimated £1m casualty. Shortly after 0200 BST, the alarm was raised, and 150 firefighters from across North Yorkshire spent 2 hours bringing the blaze under control. The fire was concentrated in the 13thCentury South Transept and left its roof shattered. The fire’s cause was unclear, but early suggestions are that the medieval cathedral was struck by lightning. Staff braved heavy smoke and flames to salvage the Minster’s priceless artifacts while the building was still ablaze.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie has praised rescue efforts and the goodwill of people who have come forward to offer help and money. He was at the scene this morning, after giving service at the Minster yesterday, he said: “there’s a certain obvious poignancy which makes one a bit lost for words, immediate regression, and slick comments.” There are fears that the 16thCentury stained glass rose window has been badly damaged, but experts are optimistic that it can be repaired.

Fire investigators estimate that repair bills will total £1m, but the government has already pledged assistance.

1941: UK Enigma Code Broken

On July 9, 1941, crackerjack British cryptologists broke the German Army’s secret code to direct ground-to-air operations on the Eastern front.

British and Polish experts had earlier broken many of the Enigma codes for the Western front. Enigma was the Germans’ most sophisticated coding machine, necessary to secretly transmitting the information. The Enigma machine, invented in 1919 by Hugo Koch, a Dutchman, looked like a typewriter and was originally employed for business purposes. The Germany army adopted the machine for wartime use and considered its encoding system unbreakable. They were wrong. The Brits had broken their first Enigma code as early as the German invasion of Poland and had intercepted virtually every message sent through the occupation of Holland and France.